Austin City Council passes resolution to improve safety near Rainey Street
Austin City Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday directing the city manager to come up with a safety plan for people walking around the Rainey Street Historic District.
The resolution seeks recommendations on increasing the number of cameras monitoring the trailhead area, coordinating with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission to identify more ways to prevent venues from overserving alcohol, exploring the capacity for park rangers to patrol the area and identifying whether EMS could be stationed at the trailhead.
Two recent drownings in Lady Bird Lake renewed concern about nighttime safety near the Rainey Street trailhead, where three other drownings occurred between 2014 and 2018. Authorities have said there is no indication of foul play in any of the cases.
Ahead of the vote Thursday, Christopher Pugh implored the city to improve safety measures along the trail and across Austin. His son, Christian, was found alive near the Congress Avenue Bridge three days after he went missing in 2019.
“My son went off the Congress Street Bridge, where tens of thousands of people pass daily, hundreds of thousands of people probably cross yearly, and there’s not one camera down there working, not one,” he told council members. “So we really need for the city to not only add cameras to the Rainey Street District, but all over the city.”
The city has installed fencing between the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and Lady Bird Lake, as well as additional lighting in four locations along the trail.
District 9 City Council member Zohaib “Zo” Qadri, whose district includes the Rainey Street neighborhood, told KUT last week that the city has introduced ranger patrols along the route on Fridays and Saturdays between 6 p.m. and midnight, with hopes to have them Thursdays and Sundays as well.
The resolution calls for interim City Manager Jesús Garza to give council an update by June 13 on installing additional cameras in the area.